Council steps up fight against school closures

By ROY WOOD

Osoyoos council is expanding its efforts in the battle to keep both of the town’s schools open in the face of the school district’s proposal to shutter either the elementary or the secondary school.

Following discussions at an in-camera meeting Monday morning, council passed a motion directing a multi-pronged effort to save the schools.

The action follows a decision in January that saw South Okanagan Similkameen School District administration recommend that, in an effort to reduce a looming budget deficit, one of two options be adopted:

  • Close Osoyoos Secondary School and have students bused to South Okanagan Secondary in Oliver; or
  • Close Osoyoos Elementary School and transform the high school into a kindergarten to grade-9 school and transport grade-10-12 students to Oliver.

Council on Monday directed staff to write a letter to the school district outlining their concerns with the short notice of the possible closures. The recommendations were made public January 13 and the first public information meeting in Osoyoos is scheduled for February 9.

The council motion also targets the provincial government, authorizing a lobbying effort encouraging the province to find another solution and seeking a face-to-face meeting with Education Minister Mike Bernier.

Council will lobby other communities in the school district “to seek out interest in providing supportive municipal funding.”

As well, council vowed to work with locally organized parent groups to seek solutions other than closing one of the schools.

All three council members at the meeting urged residents to attend the February 9 public information meeting.

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